Save Our Screencasts

Senpai's picture

It has come to my attention this morning that we may have lost yet another screenie. I'm starting to get a bit depressed because of this. I can't possibly learn all there is to learn during a lesson because there's so much going on. The flow of information, the IRC noise, the follow-along-on-your-own-compy syndrome all lead to missed learning opportunities that a review of the screencast would serve to forever cement.

It is with this in mind that I open the floor for a serious discussion on how to never loose a screenie again. Coming from a live concert production background, I know what it means to screw up the one shot at "getting it right". How can we put a series of fail-safes into play so that we, as a dojo, don't loose another opportunity for screencast fame and fortune? Think of the children! Save the whales!

1. If it doesn't exist in three places, it never existed at all. This adage is appropriate in the computer world, but never more so than in a live-to-tape videocast. We need to record this information at multiple, redundant, and synchronous locations. I propose that we dedicate and/or train at least two teams of three. The teams will be taught the basics of video recording and compression for the web, and then they will assume record duties on alternating weeks. This will ensure that we have a full-length screencast on at least one computer by the time we're finished with a lesson.

2. Create video and audio as duplicate entities. If we could create vidcasts and podcasts out of this material, it would lessen the chance of becoming mysteriously lost to the ages. It would also enable the iPod generation to have the material in a portable format for refreshing stimulus while driving to a client's office to begin their week of Access Control work.

3. Edit the video the same day it's produced. Nothing says professional like a "Live Now - Join The Lesson" button on drupaldojo.com that changes to a "Download The Screencast" button within a few hours. Editing video for length is not a hard thing to learn, nor does it take much time. You find the spots with either dead-air or "VNC DOWN!" text and select, cut-splice, save. If it takes more than an hour to time-edit a lesson, chances are we need better education for our senseii.

There has got to be at least one or two people in the drupal world who have either edited video or want to. Somebody go find us two of those people, and they can swap every other week. One hour of editing time twice a month to help the 100,000+ Drupal users of the world? Come on! Get down with your bad self!

4. Many hands make rice harvest easy. We all benefit from the dojo, but not all of us are contributing back to the community. This next sentence is not a guilt trip, its an eye-opener. How much would you have to pay for this training at a school like ITT Technical Institute?

I will volunteer to record the screencasts each week. Webavant and I discussed the viability of recording a secondary, direct feed from the sensei's computer in addition to recording the screenie at the reflector itself. There's two points of redundancy already, assuming the sensei machine can support that outbound bandwidth && Webavant can find some server recording software that takes minimal configuration and weekly futzing.

Save our Screenies!

Comments

I think the problem might be bigger than we think...

Tresler's picture

Let me say in advance that I could be wrong about some these, but I think they bear discussion anyway.

To address your points:

1 goes hand-in-hand with 4 - Where are these two teams of three coming from. As you point out, we don't have a huge volunteer base. Personally, I don't mind this. There is no schedule or deadlines, and if the dojo isn't all it can be then we all know to look to ourselves. But might also point out that there have been MANY tasks that we set ourselves that no one took up the gauntlet on. I reference the doc feature request of editing Victorkane's notes - both issues I set up that can be filled by anyone are still not even commented on. I can only presume that this is because nobody wants to do these things.
Either way, there aren't two teams of three to do this, so until we have more people willing to do the work, proposing manpower as a solution won't work.

3 - I've done some video editing, and I fail to see how you can edit a 2 hour lesson in a single hour - let alone with any quality. You need to at least watch it to edit it. Keep in mind this isn't the lesson you saw when you were looking at your screen, but what you get from someone else's computer. And again, we aren't bursting at the seems with people wanting to do this. Typically video editing takes at least twice as long as the source material - sometimes much longer.

2 - How useful is an audiocast of what we are doing? I mean, I can't see anyone honestly benefiting from spoken code. Perhaps the Intro to Drupal community lesson - since it wasn't code based. But hearing someone say "Now you go to the configuration screen and hit this button" doesn't mean much. If these are to be audiocasts our Teachers need to get MUCH more verbal about what they are doing - with a mind towards producing this as strictly audio as well. Not as easy as it sounds.

On a technical point, if you truly can get the source from the server than I can't say enough that THAT s the better way to go. As a teacher you are already juggling too many things to worry about your local screencapture. That and what if it does go down? You're going to stop the lesson and have 60+ wait on you to troubleshoot it.

People seem to be thinking that we are losing these screencaps due to negligence on the teacher's part. All of our teachers tested this stuff beforehand and it worked. The hitch comes in when you're suddenly: Screencapturing, Audio capturing, VNC teaching, in IRC, on a Skypecast, Writing Code, and Tring to speak coherently to an audience.... oddly the recording goes out of your head.

If this responsibility can be taken off the teachers that would be the best solution.

Sorry if this sounds caustic, I just got back from the DMV - state-run Hell. I'm honestly not trying to be negative, but saying we need more people to help is like saying water is wet and raising the bar (deadlines for editing) doesn't help the already overburdened volunteers.


Tresler Designs

Maybe our recorded sessions are too long?

Senpai's picture

It occurred to me after I posted the original ideas that perhaps our screencasts are too long? What if the VNC recording software on the sensei computer is choking on recording length?

After hearing Kevin Reynen's comment yesterday that, "pre-planning's just gone right out the window", and comparing that to all the other lessons I've seen, maybe we should break these lessons into two parts.

First hour is uninterrupted teaching time. No questions, just flow. Second hour is question and answer time from the IRC Gang. That might also get us a better chance of realizing a finished recording. Yes?
[/senpai]


Joel Farris | my 'certified to rock' score
Transparatech
http://transparatech.com
619.717.2805

After posting I also sat back to think some...

Tresler's picture

Everyone has been saying that the recording from a remote machine is too low quality, but it strikes me that low quality is better than no video - even if we can't organize the second vnc feed, people should start doing their own screencaptures then we can pick the highest quality. At least that way we have something.

If someone would be kind enough to every ten to fifteen minutes remind the speaker to check his screencap.

In truth I think it is too much for most screencap software to deal with - with that many other programs running. I know wink relies on saving multiple screenshots - somewhere between 4 and 10 a second. Thats RAM intensive - at an odd guess I would say that these programs might have redundancy to queue the shots when they runover.... but that queue can only get so big before the screencap software has to say stop.


Tresler Designs

Also

Tresler's picture

A detailed howto for windows and Mac on how to make a screencap and an evaluation of software to use.

Audio can definitely be captured by someone other than the teacher - and should to reduce load on the teacher's computer. Even if their screencap software does it. Just a thought.


Tresler Designs

screencast editing instructions needed

greggles's picture

While I agree we should get editing done sooner, we also just need someone watching to make minute markers and editing instructions:

http://groups.drupal.org/node/2645

We have volunteer editors (or at least we did...) so now they just need to know what to do

--
Knaddisons Denver Life | mmm Free Range Burritos

Viedo converted to Screencast

simplymenotu's picture

We also discussed having just the audio portion -- we could (in theory) recreate
the screencast, especially if it was like a web tour. If the lesson poked into code, it
might be harder to get this information on the screen with audio that would make sense.

I like the idea of having the Lesson part in a separate recording than the IRC/Discussion/Q&A.

I'm still thinking it all out....

I'll try to do one of these

Senpai's picture

I can try to do one of the early tutorials for cutlines. Do they need a minute by minute view, or do they need actual timecode?
[/senpai]


Joel Farris | my 'certified to rock' score
Transparatech
http://transparatech.com
619.717.2805

dunno

greggles's picture

We need to ask Kevin about that...good question.

--
Knaddisons Denver Life | mmm Free Range Burritos

I've had this on my back

Senpai's picture

I've had this on my back burner for a long time now, and i just can't get time to watch and make notes on even one of these vids. Doh!
[/senpai]


Joel Farris | my 'certified to rock' score
Transparatech
http://transparatech.com
619.717.2805

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